Surviving relatives accuse Fresno police of wrongful death

By Noddy A. Fernandez | Feb 15, 2018

SACRAMENTO — Surviving family members are suing the city of Fresno and Fresno police, alleging breach of duty, wrongful death and violation of civil rights.

SACRAMENTO — Surviving family members are suing the city of Fresno and Fresno police, alleging breach of duty, wrongful death and violation of civil rights.

Anthony Perez, Cecilia Perez, Joseph Perez Jr., Teralee Perez, and X.P., a minor by and through his guardian ad litem, Michelle Perez, individually and as successors-in-interest to the late Joseph Perez, filed a complaint Jan. 23,in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the city of Fresno, the county of Fresno, Police Sgt. James Rossetti, et al., alleging the defendants violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

According to the complaint, on May 10, 2017, Joseph Perez, who had been wandering Fresno streets muttering to himself, died in the course of being taken into custody by the defendant law enforcement officers. The suit says the Fresno County Sheriff Coroner’s Office determined the death to be a homicide due to compressive asphyxia during restraint of Perez. 

The complaint alleges the defendants were responsible for assuring that the actions, omissions, policies, procedures, practices, and customs of its employees and agents complied with the laws of the United States and of the state of California. 

The plaintiffs allege the defendants failed to train its police officers adequately, which caused the deprivation of Perez's and the plaintiffs' rights.

The plaintiffs seek trial by jury, compensatory, funeral, burial, statutory and punitive damages, costs of suit, and all further relief the court deems just. They are represented by attorneys Neil K. Gehlawat of Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Bakersfield, and by Thomas C. Seabaugh of The Law Office of Thomas C. Seabaugh in Los Angeles.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California case number 1:18-cv-00127-AWI-EPG

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